Kenya – A Visit To The Happy Valley, A Paradise To Behold

The early morning sunlight shown brightly above the mist covered valleys below as we quietly floated in the air, suddenly the mist below give way to review a spectacular column of life that stretched from horizon to horizon, it’s the annual migration of the wildebeest in the theater of Maasai Mara, within the Great Rift Valley, our vehicle, a hot air balloon. For the nest one hour we float over tree canopies, vast grasslands across valley all teaming with wildlife our pilot occasionally dropping low to give us a close look and a snapshot on the life below.

The Great Rift Valley where the Mara is located was christened the Happy Valley by the British colonial settlers in Kenya and with a good reason. The hot air balloons, the most romantic way of game watching were then not in use in the middle of the last century but to them it was adventure all year round across the vast valley parting, hunting, and horse riding and discovering the hidden beauty. But with all these activities of the settlers, there remained some of the world greatest treasures and the best wildlife havens on earth.

Starting from Lake Turkana in the north the ultimate adventure destination, brimming with Africa’s largest population of Nile crocodiles and the home of tribal cultures, largely untouched by the outside world, time has stood still here. However on the shores of the lake lies the world greatest treasures, the 3 million year old Koobi Fora a Palaeontological site within Sibiloi National park first discovered by Dr Richard Leakey and his team in 1972.Sibiloi is now universally recognized as the `Cradle of Mankind` and the most likely site of the biblical Garden of Eden.

Coming further down the valley are Lake Baringo a fresh water Lake and a bird watchers paradise. Here it’s extremely hot and arid and with perhaps the highest tally of birds species sighted anywhere in the world. Included is Verreaux’s Eagle, the rare Bristle-crowned Starling and Hemprich’s Hornbill, but the list is too numerous to do it justice here. Nearby is lake Bogoria an untamed beauty – a co-ordinated sea of blue and vivid pink, set dramatically at the foot of Laikipia Escarpment – right in the sweltering deserts north of Nakuru, at an altitude above 1,000 m. Apart from its superb geographic location, outstanding features include its famous geysers – spectacular displays of superheated water, bubbling up out of its natural underground rock cauldrons and its shoreline which plays host to countless thousand of flocks of shocking pink flamingoes. The surrounding national park is also the perfect habitat to an unusual handsome antelope – herds of Greater Kud.

Lake Elementaita part of the Delamere Soy-sambu Estate. Elementaita’s deeper waters are reckoned to be a more reliable habitat for sighting Flamingoes. Hundreds of bird species have been recorded in the area, from Pelicans, Black Winged Stilts, and Avocets to the winter guest list that includes a mass of Ruffs.Lake Elementaita is the best staging point of an early morning Balloon safari to view the expanse the Great Rift Valley with its staunching beauty.

Lake Naivasha the highest and purest of the Great Rift’s Lakes, this shimmering pearl, is best appreciated whilst en-route, before descending the Rift’s eastern escarpment. It sits in the shadow of volcanic cones, Mts. Longonot and Suswa and is immense – being almost 13 kms in length and covering some 110 sq km. During the 30’s and 40’s the Lake and its hotel was an early ‘Nairobi BOAC airbase’ for the flying boats. Today upwards of 600 species can be appreciated in the serenity of this lake with take-offs rather more glorious. Along its shoreline are Waterbuck, Gazelle and Hippo.

Away from the rift Valley lakes and Volcanic mountains are the two world Famous game sanctuary of Maasai Mara and Amboseli where you can lose yourself in herds of world animals on a horse, Track a rhino on foot with an expert guide, watch the sunset turn the sky to gold, relax by a campfire as the distance roar of a lion bring the day to an end.